10 Indian Celebrities Who Were Detained at Airport

Detention at the U.S. airports seems to have got a regular affair for the ‘Bollywood King’ Shahrukh Khan. He was detained at the airports in 2009 and 2012, and now once again on August 11, 2016, at Los Angeles international airport. Shahrukh Khan shared his outrage on this repetitive humiliation through Twitter that became the headline.

He said, “I fully understand & respect security with the way the world is, but to be detained at US immigration every damn time really sucks.”

This is not just the King Khan, in recent years other reputed Indian celebrities like Irrfan Khan, Kamal Hasan and Neil Nitin Mukesh also had to go through the similar ordeal at the U.S. airport. Racial profiling of Indian at the US airports has become a common thing. Though many people go through the same pain, but the problem gets highlighted when celebrities face the brunt.

  1. Irrfan Khan

He is a highly acclaimed actor in both Bollywood and Hollywood with movies like Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire, Paan Singh Tomar, The Lunchbox and The Namesake, to name a few. He juggles his career between Indian and Hollywood, for which he has to regularly travel to the U.S. The actor has been detained twice: first in 2008 at Las Angeles airport in 2008 and then in 2009 he was detained in New York.

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When asked about the incident, Irrfan Khan recalled the 2009 incident and said, “I was told to quietly come into a room for questioning and identification verification. I wasn’t allowed to talk. When I tried to ask why I was being treated this way, I was told to keep quiet. I wasn’t allowed to use my phone. They said, ‘No, you just sit down.’ This all happened because my name was Irrfan Khan. You can’t argue or rationalize.”

  1. Kamal Hassan

The highly popular South Indian actor and filmmaker, Kamal Hassan has also gone through the ordeal of the strict security process at airports. He was detained at Canada airport in 2012 for about half an hour during which the authorities questioned him for various details. The star said he was doubted because of his Muslim-sounding name.


  1. Neil Nitin Mukesh

This was a sort of quirky incident that happened with the movie New York’s actor Neil Nitin Mukesh. He was detained at the airport in 2009 when traveling to the U.S. for the shooting of his movie New York. The immigration officials stopped him because he didn’t look like an Indian due to his fair skin. The actor said they he tried to convince them for hours telling them about his family and background. When everything failed, he requested the authorities to Google his name to get his background details.


  1. Kabir Khan

Highly successful director Kabir Khan, who gave us movies like Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Ek Tha Tiger, also had to face the brunt in the United States. During a flight from Los Angeles to Washington, he was talking to a co-passenger in Hindi, which the authorities considered a ‘strange’ language.

Kabir Khan said, “First two burly FBI agents took both of us to the front of the plane and on getting to know my name, they continued to question me for more than hours. They checked my name on Google for terrorist links and then finally allowed me to fly.”


The FBI agents also asked him if he had been to Pakistan. He said, “I told them no. If I had told them that I had been to Afghanistan, they’d have freaked out.”

This was not the only time he had to go through the detention process. He was again questioned at an American airport and was detained for 90 minutes. When asked about his experience, he said, “On the second occasion in New York, when I was detained, I blew my top. I told this big Black American guy, ‘Please clear the confusion about my identity once and for all. Or don’t provide me with a visa. I don’t want to come back to the US.’ The guy wanted to know if it was a threat. I was taken aback. Mira Nair had to intervene. She advised me to never counter-question them.”

  1. Iqbal Khan

Popular television actor who worked in serials like Kaisa Ye Pyar Hai, Sanjog Se Bani Sangini and Waaris also had to face the similar problem due to his surname. The actor who also worked in the movie Fun2shh was denied a visa to the U.S. But the problem seems to come as good news for him as after the incident he has got a 10-year visa to the country.

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Iqbal Khan said, “My foreign trips, especially trips to the US, are no longer a hassle. After the media took up the issue of my visa, I received a call from the American consulate. Now I’ve a 10-year visa to the US.”

  1. Mammootty

This Malayalam superstar was stopped at the JFK airport in New York in May 2009. The reason behind the detention was his name Mohammad Kutty Ismail on the passport.


The actor told the reporters, “I said who I am and when I told them that my website reveals everything, they were convinced after they checked it.”

  1. John Abraham

The actor played the role of an unfortunate man suspicious of terrorist activities in the movie New York, but while signing for the movie he didn’t know that he will have to face the same problem in the real life too. John was detained at the New York airport for six hours just because the immigration officials saw Afghanistan as one of the countries he had visited mentioned on his passport. Though the officials later realized their mistake when they got to know that he is an actor and released him.


  1. Aamir Khan

Mr. Perfectionist of the Bollywood has also gone through the ordeal of being detained at the airport. He was strip searched at Chicago airport in 2002.

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Not just the Bollywood stars, some other prominent personalities also had to face the same humiliation at the US airport. Two major cases are of Indian Ambassador to the US and late President APJ Abdul Kalam.

  1. Meera Shankar

The Indian Ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar was detained at the airport for a pat-down search. She was the ambassador between 2009 and 2011 and was stopped by the security personnel at Mississippi airport in December 2010. Though she was traveling on a diplomatic passport, she was stopped for security search just because she was wearing a saree.


  1. APJ Abdul Kalam

Late President APJ Abdul Kalam was frisked at the New York airport in 2011. The security officials took away his jacket and shoes to check for explosive, which left India fuming. Earlier in 2009, employees of an American airline frisked Mr. Kalam at Delhi airport when he was traveling to New York.

apj kalam